If you are serious about your work, you need other eyes on it, reliable, knowledgeable eyes. Sometimes that can be found in a writing group or critique partner, and sometimes not. For those of you thinking about hiring an editor to look at your work, here are some considerations to keep in mind.
Who should consider hiring an editor?
- Anyone who is looking for reliable, professional feedback on their work.
- Anyone who is considering independent publishing.
- Anyone who has been trying to get traditionally published and has amassed a large (and I mean large) number of rejections.
I know, that covers just about everyone currently writing. A solid critique partner is worth their weight and gold, but for those of us who can’t find one (excellent critique partners are sometimes as elusive as unicorns) or who doesn’t have the time to wait around for somebody to get to reading their manuscript and give feedback (most of my critique partners have full-time jobs and they read slowly), an editor fits the ticket well. The problem is that editors cost quite a bit of money, especially the good ones.
The benefits of an editor:
- Editors can provide more than just spell checking. A good editor can also provide developmental support, including:
- Character arch
- Help with developing just about any element of story telling
- Knowledge of current criticism and trends.
- Expert recommendations.
- Dedicated and timely feedback.
That said, not every editor (much like critique partners) is as qualified or skilled as they should be. Make sure you research potential editors quite a bit. Here is what to look for:
- A membership with the Editorial Freelancers Association
- Recommendations from published authors, preferably from both independent and traditionally published authors. Make sure you actually speak to these authors too.
- A sample edit.
- A carefully written editing contract that protects both you and them.
- Look for an editor who is familiar with your genre.
- Your editor should be willing to explain their reasoning when they suggest edits and provide feedback. Not only will this help you grow as a writer, but it will help you ensure that the changes being made are necessary.
Editing shouldn’t drastically alter your book. If you disagree with a suggestion, discuss it in depth with the editor. The book should not be changed because it goes against their personal beliefs, styles, or philosophies. Feedback should be made based on current literary criticism, publishing trends, and solid writing techniques.
My editor disagreed with a couple of the actions my character took. Instead of just recommending those actions be eliminated, she explained the issues she saw. We discussed these issues in detail and realized that the problem was not in the actions, but in fully developing the character so that the actions weren’t misinterpreted. From there I was able to flesh out the character more.
The best way to find an editor is through word of mouth. Find published authors who are happy about their editor and research those editors. In case you are wondering, my editor is Sylvia Cottrell at Ex Libris Editing, and she is wonderful!